Offaly push All-Ireland champions Cork all the way in Camogie classic
Cork 2-11 Offaly 2-9
All-Ireland champions Cork were made to work for their win in Faithful fields last Saturday afternoon after they just edged Offaly Camogie by two points.
Goals again were the main factor for the Faithful’s loss with Hannah Looney and Katrina Mackey finding the net within ten minutes of each other mid-way through the first half.
However on this occasion Offaly also scored their first two goals of the league with St. Rynagh’s Helen Dolan slotting two past Cork Captain Aoife Murray.
Cork finish their league campaign maintaining their perfect record and securing a place in the Semi-Final while Offaly sit bottom of the table with no wins and now face a relegation play-off against Meath next Saturday.
Offaly were the quickest team off the mark finding the net in the opening minutes of the game, a Linda Sullivan shot was saved with her clubmate Helen Dolan flicking the ball over the goal line in her first start of the season.
Cork responded to this goal with some quick fire points from Amy O'Connor and Orla Cotter. The Offaly defence was put under a lot of pressure in the first half with Cork opting for a running and passing game.
This was all stringed together by Aishling Thompson who lined out at centre back. Triona McDonald and Roisin Egan were magnificent in defence with Roisin linking excellently with Grainne Egan in goals for short puck outs. The full back line of Ann Marie Guinan, Fiona Stephens and Sarah Walsh also excelled with a new found determination of attacking the ball and moving it forward cleverly.
Offaly were struggling to compete with Amy O'Connor who ran constantly at the Offaly defence picking up four points throughout the game, while pre-match concerns about her fitness were put to bed.
She contributed three points in the first half, and this was aided by deadly accurate free-taking from Orla Cotter, which gave the rebels a comfortable lead in the first half.
On form Patrice Delaney kept Offaly in touch with frees but Offaly were trailing by six at the half time break on a scoreline of Offaly 1-4 to Cork's 2-7.
The second half saw a new lease of life from Offaly with questions raised of the current All-Ireland champions. This is the closest an Offaly side has ever come to beating Cork with Offaly running Cork to five points last summer in St. Brendan’s Park the previous benchmark.
Helen Dolan, who was part of NUIG’s Purcell Cup-winning squad on Tuesday night, carried momentum through and netted her second goal of the game mid-way through the half.
Cork tried numerous tactics and even moved Aishling Thompson from centre back to centre forward as they struggled with the determination and dominance of Offaly in the second half.
Intelligent play from Grainne Dolan and Orlagh Kirwan in the second half saw Offaly by-pass the Cork sweeper spreading the play wide for some wonderful scores, with scores from Kate Kenny, Debbie Flynn and Patrice Delaney.
Unfortunately, Mike Wall’s charges could not find the other goal they needed to pull off the shock. This is the best performance from Offaly so far in the league, however, this moral victory will mean nothing if they are relegated next weekend by Meath.
Offaly: Grainne Egan, Ann Marie Guinan, Fiona Stephens, Sarah Walsh, Triona McDonald, Roisin Egan, Alanna Roddy, Grainne Dolan, Orlagh Kirwan, Debbie Flynn, Patrice Delaney, Arlene Watkins (Capt.), Helen Dolan, Sarah Harding, Linda Sullivan
Substitutes: Grace Teehan for Alanna Roddy (HT), Kate Kenny for Linda Sullivan 45min.
Cork: Aoife Murray, Leanne O’Sullivan, Laura Treacy, Meabh Cahalane, Aileen Sheehan, Libby Coppinger, Chloe Sigerson, Orla Cotter, Aishling Thompson, Amy O’Connor, Orla Cronin, Pamela Mackey, Hannah Looney, Julia White, Lauren Homan
Substitutes: Caitriona Collins for Pamela Mackey
Offaly: Debbie Flynn 0-03. Helen Dolan 2-00. Kate Kenny. Grainne Dolan Sarah Harding 0-01 each. Patrice Delaney 0-03
Cork: Orla Cotter 0-05 Amy 0'Connor 0-04. Katrina Mackey 1-01 Hannah Looney 1-00 Orla Cronin 0-02